A few weeks ago, we met a young, prospective TD (senator) of Ireland who was running in the general election. This politician made us a promise, that if he was elected he would get us a tour of the Dail (their government building). And he did! Thank you Simon Harris!
Wednesday morning we took the DART to Dublin for our tour of Leinster House. The tour started in the Dail Chamber where all the TDs gather to argue over bills they want to pass. For those of you at Taylor, Ayres 215 is modeled after this room. It is beautiful, decorated in gold and blue. There were only a few TDs debating while we were there, but we sat in the upper level and watched the whole proceeding anyway. They were arguing over bank reorganization and structure. The Minister of Finance was making a case for his plan to get the country back on track.
After listening to them discuss for awhile, we went and toured the rest of the building. At one point, Leinster House was an actual house belonging to the Duke of Leinster, hence the name. It wasn't until 1990 that it took on its current role. Throughout the building are paintings of past presidents, Taoiseachs (Prime Ministers), and other important people in Irish history. The room they were probably most proud to show us had picutures of foreign dignateries that have addressed the Dail including three American Presidents: JFK, Reagan, and Clinton. President Obama may soon be added to this list. He is planning on visiting Ireland the day after the Queen leaves this May.
The most exciting part of our tour was seeing Simon! He stopped by to check with us while we were in the middle of the tour, but at the end he met up with us to chat for a bit. We were shown back into the little cafe area where only people who work there usually go. Then Simon got us all coffee, tea, or pop and we got to ask him about his first few weeks in office. So far, the most exciting thing he has gotten to do is nominate the Taoiseach! This role is traditionally given to the youngest member, and Simon at age 24 got the job! So he had the privilege of standing up while they were in session and proposing that Enda Kenny be chosen! Crazy!
It was great to see a politician keep his promise to a bunch of American students who weren't even able to vote for him! Although, we are probably his biggest fan club. Over the television in our living room we have one of his campaign posters. After the election was over, we saw a man taking them down, ran up, and asked for one. He was confused why we wanted it, but gave it to us anyway. It turns out that was Simon's dad! He was pretty proud of his son and convinced Simon will be Taoiseach one day! We'll have to see if that comes true. Anyway, we had taken a picture of all of us sitting in the living room with this poster in the background and someone must have tagged Simon in it on Facebook. He laughed as he told us how funny it is to have all our random snapshots of him or his poster on Facebook right next to his nice campaign pictures. Honestly, I think secretly he really likes it!